As a matter of urgency, the European system of craftsmen needing certificates for the various building trades must be adopted in Cyprus.

At present, whatever a ‘craftsman’ declares that he is is accepted and it is assumed that he knows what he is doing and can do it well. Most of the time we end up with bad quality buildings, especially when it comes to the finishes, resulting in surroundings and constant problems like leaking pipes.

The only craftsmen who require a certificate of workmanship are electricians, but then, this only applies to the contractor and not their workers, with the end result being the same.

If certificates are required for all, from bricklayers and stone masons to plasterers, the first who will benefit is the labour force, who having acquired a certificate may demand (and quite rightly) higher pay. Contractors will have fewer problems and have to do less supervision, but most importantly the end result will be higher building quality.

The key to the whole situation is the site foreman who is supposed to be there 100 per cent of the time a project takes to be executed. But then good foremen are a rarety and they cost more than a qualified civil engineer, so building contractors split their time across various jobs resulting in little supervision in effect.

A client recently had issue with dampness and having dug up the screed he found that the pipes were not copper but galvanised and the damp proofing was not properly placed.

The difference in quality between Cyprus and other countries when it comes to such matters is striking.

In the past we were approached by a German shipping management company and asked to provide project management services for a fee four times higher than other jobs we had at the time. Having studied the requirements from us however, we turned the job down since based on the quality of builders that were available to us and the clients strict requirements, we could not perform the job to their satisfaction. In the end the company brought in a German engineer and qualified foreign staff to carry out the job.

Projects of a certain calibre employ tradespeople from abroad. For Eleftheria Square and the Ayia Napa marina, the promoter not only employed foreign architects, but also craftsmen from abroad.

Approximately five years ago there was a proposal to classify craftsmen by trade, but nothing came of it, to the detriment of building quality – a loss for everyone. These sort of requirements should be pushed for by the associations of contractors, architects and civil engineers, the technical chamber and of course the unions but they are all mum on the subject.

Antonis Loizou & Associates EPE – Real Estate Valuers, Estate Agents & Property Consultants,, [email protected]